February 18, 2011

Saturday, 18 February 1911


The depot-laying party doubled up the ponies for the return journey. Scott and Cherry joined Wilson's and Meares' dog teams; Gran and Oates followed, each leading a team, with Bowers in the rear. They covered 23 miles, a distance that would have taken three days' travel on the outward journey.

"After lunch to our astonishment the ponies appeared, going strong," wrote Scott. "They were making for a camp some miles farther on, and meant to remain there. I'm very glad to have seen them making the pace so well. They don't propose to stop for lunch at all but to march right through 10 or 12 miles a day. I think they will have little difficulty in increasing this distance." [1]

Oates, sharing a tent with Gran, found the young Norwegian "dirty and lazy" and had had a row or two with him. [2] Now, Gran recalled, "Oates told me straight out that what he had against me was not personal; it was just that I was a foreigner. With all his heart he hated all foreigners, because all foreigners hated England. The rest of the world led by Germany was just waiting to attack his Motherland, and destroy it if they could. I was about to reply when Bowers quickly intervened: 'Could be something in what you say, Oates, but all the same I wager what you will that Gran would be with us if England is forced into war through no fault of her own.' 'Would you?' asked Oates. 'Of course,' I replied, and the next instant he grasped my hand. From this moment, the closed book opened, and Oates and I became the best of friends". [3]


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 18 February, 1911, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1. It is easy to suspect that the ponies knew they were heading for home.
[2] Quoted by Sue Limb and Patrick Cordingley in Captain Oates : Soldier and Explorer (London : Batsford, c1982), p.114.
[3] Tryggve Gran, note to diary entry of 18 February, 1911, quoted in The Norwegian With Scott : Tryggve Gran's Antarctic Diary 1910-1913 ([Greenwich] : National Maritime Museum, 1984), p.60. Gran did volunteer for the Royal Flying Corps when war broke out in 1914, was rejected because of Norway's neutrality, and applied again under a false identity as a Canadian. He served with distinction from 1916 to the end of the war. His career in the Second World War was, however, not so commendable; see Wikipedia.

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